AOPA President Phil Boyer was honored to be selected as the first speaker at the 1st Annual John D. Odegard Memorial Distinguished Lecture Series and Spring Safety Seminar at UND Aerospace. More than 600 attendees heard his presentation February 6 at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
The event was organized by AATP (the Association of Air Transport Professionals-in-training), and Boyer devoted part of his presentation to the employment prospects for aviation professionals. Five students representing different campus organizations also got the opportunity to get some "right seat" time in N4GA, the AOPA CitationJet.
Boyer told the students that the future of general aviation remains bright. He cited messages from AOPA members, who said that after September 11, their plans to use GA have increased. For example, one member wrote, "I will only use the airlines as a last resort. I am now planning to invest heavily in the upgrades to my airplane and use it much, much more."
AOPA Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last November demonstrated how rapidly GA had rebounded from the 9/11 tragedy. The show had the highest attendance ever on the East Coast and the largest number of exhibitors, and those exhibitors had record sales.
Boyer also had predictions for the career students at UND Aerospace. He said the major airlines would likely be back to full capacity within 18 months, and that the regional airlines had not experienced significant declines. He noted that the age-60 rule meant that a large number of airline pilots would be retiring in 2007 and 2008, and that would open new opportunities for young aviation professionals.
Boyer also paid tribute to John Odegard.
"John Odegard was an inspiration to me when I first took the job as AOPA president," said Boyer. "I witnessed the enthusiasm he brought to his students, his unceasing efforts to improve general aviation, and I have tried to emulate his example."
Odegard was the founder and dean of UND Aerospace at the University of North Dakota. Beginning with only two donated aircraft and two faculty, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has evolved into one of the nation's most widely respected aerospace education programs in the nation.